F.C. Barcelona cruises to 4-0 victory over S.S.C. Napoli at The Big House

Saturday, August 10, 2019 - 8:46pm

It took 47 minutes for the floodgates to open Saturday evening.

Over the course of 15 minutes early in the second half, F.C. Barcelona rattled off four straight goals to power its way to a 4-0 victory over S.S.C. Napoli.

The two European clubs squared off in front of a heavily pro-Barcelona crowd of 60,043. It was small by Michigan Stadium standards, especially in light of its soccer history.

In 2014, The Big House set the record for the biggest crowd ever at an international soccer match in the United States, attracting 109,318 fans when Manchester United took on Real Madrid. Saturday was the fourth international soccer game that has been played at Michigan Stadium since 2014, drawing the lowest attendance of the four. 

“In the first half we were very dominant,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde through a translator. “We were unable to score, but the game was ours from our point of view. Overall, we had a good game. In the second half we were also dominant, but the game opened up a little more and we were able to pressure and score.”

Barcelona is known for is possessive style of play, and it was on full display against Napoli. The Spanish side held possession for 58 percent of the match, completing over 91 percent of its pass attempts. When it didn’t have possession, Barcelona’s defensive pressure often prevented Napoli from working into its attacking third.

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez opened up scoring in the 48th minute off a rebound after Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret saved Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann’s one-on-one opportunity. He added another goal 10 minutes later which put his side up 3-0.

Newly signed forward Antoine Griezmann also notched his first goal for Barcelona in the 56th minute after making his club debut in late July. He finished on a cross from defender Jordi Alba inside the six-yard box for an easy tap-in score.

Forward Ousmane Dembélé added the fourth and final goal in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Frenkie De Jong, Barcelona’s other high-profile signing this summer, found Dembélé with space on the right wing. He cut inside towards the top of the 18-yard box and finished past an outstretched Meret.

What started off looking like a stalemate through 47 minutes quickly became a decisive victory for Barcelona.

“I think we played well in the first half,” De Jong said. “We didn’t score as many goals, but most of the time in the first half you build it up and in the second half you finish it.”